Well wasn’t that a bit of fun? The Oilers hadn’t had a game like this (where they can do things like point to the scoreboard and laugh, for instance) the entire season. We all knew that the ridiculous 4.7% even strength shooting percentage wouldn’t last, Lennart Petrell continued employment or no, and it seems the 4 goal outburst at evens tonight will go a long way to soothe out the deviation from league average. There were also two Dallas own goals with Lehtonen a key player in both, the first going off his own equipment and the second featuring him knifing a centering pass off his own defenceman. Call me a homer, but it seems those clown college goals are always scored on the Oilers, so getting two against the hated Stars goes down like a lead zeppelin.
The funny thing about this 5-1 affair is that the Stars really took the balance of possession at even strength against the Oilers. The game ended with the Stars ahead 51-34 and having beaten the Oilers in all three periods. The conventional shot clock ended 26-22 at evens, with the large amount of Stars shots blocked making the real difference here. Dubnyk had a whale of a game tonight, stopping all the routine stuff and even making a circus save or two through the venerable act of STACKING THE PADS… you tell those media members to doff their caps to history and stop calling them ”two-pad stacks”. Why would a goalie ever have an excuse to stack his third pad?? Foolish, really.
The main thing I was watching for in this game was how Ryan Jones did on the second line. I was looking forward to ripping into the coaching decision, and I’m not disappointed — Jones went -8 tonight, with Gagner and Hemky ending -9 and -6 respectively. I’ll remind you that last game vs the Hawks, in which the Oilers were shot attempted by THIRTY-SEVEN, Magnus Paajarvi ended the night +1 on the second line. The decision to scratch Paajarvi was completely unfounded and had laughable results tonight. I really don’t care that Gagner and Hemsky got some points tonight, the net result is that they got outshot rather handily while getting some luck. That line needs to establish some consistency and I can assure you starting them with Ryan Jones is not the ticket. This coaching staff needs to be smarter than falling for all of the tired ‘grit’ tropes still being sold to us in hockey. Jones is an everyday NHL player, fine, but just because he hits the odd guy doesn’t mean he can play on a line with Sam Gagner and Ales freaking Hemsky.
The best line was, not surprisingly, the top line with RNH and Eberle reuniting with Taylor Hall after his suspension. Eberle ended +6, Hall +5, and RNH +3, while they were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Corsi per minute. They had a lot of quality shifts in the offensive zone and were able to cash on the crucial second goal with Justin Schultz. RNH missed a wonderful chance in the 1st period with a shot way high and wide, almost scored on a powerplay which Lehtonen just got with his shoulder, and also bobbled the puck during an offensively crushing shift in the 3rd which led to the Stars only goal of the game by Jagr. RNH also ends the game with zero points. There is some weird karma going on with this kid right now.
Fistric ended the game -17, one shy of the season low set by Petry and Eberle last game vs the Hawks. Funnily enough, that wasn’t the worst rate of Corsi — Eric Belanger handily beat him with a -1.29 Corsi per minute, good for -13 overall. Petry also had a rough game at -14, while Smid’s absence spared him for a bit of pain, leaving him with a -6. By far the best pairing was N/JSchultz, who ended +3 and +1 respectively, good for 4th and 5th rankings in Corsi per minute.
As expected, the RNH line puts up the deepest green on this chart — the played especially well against the Roy/Cole/Whoever trio, while being slightly in the negatives vs the Morrow/Jagr/Benn trio. Interestingly, the Gagner line got killed by the Roy line and generally had up and down results vs the rest of the lineup.
Fistric ended the night up against only two Stars, noted piles of crap Eric Nystrom and Antoine Roussel. The entire Stars top 6 had their way with Fistric and whomever he was playing with. On the complete flipside, the Schultz pairing did fairly well against the Stars’ top 6 — in fact, Nick Schultz only ended in negatives against two Stars. Considering that these two defencemen played a decent portion of this game double-shifting with only two other rearguards, I’d say that’s quite the feat. These two are on a decent run of play here.
So who played the most badest with Fistric? Petry was -10 with him, Potter was -5 in limited minutes, and Justin Schultz was pulled down to a -3. Fistric playing with either Potter or Petry was almost single-handedly responsible for the terrible night of the second line — seriously, look at Hemsky’s line, and he’s either even or green with everyone except his linemates, Fistric, and whoever was playing with Fistric.
Smytty had a tough night here — he wasn’t in the positives while playing with any Oiler, and his line with Belanger just wasn’t working.
Small sample size, but it looks like Petry sure likes playing with Nail Yakupov — they were +4 together. I really dislike the team’s deployment of Yakupov currently. What’s the point of having one of the top 10 shots in the NHL and play him with Chris Von VandeVelde? Why not play him during the 28 minutes of 5 on 3 time we had tonight? How long are this kid’s sideburns?
This was also an ugly night by Ben Eager — it’s just a blogger’s poetic justice that he hits a Star and then scores a goal on the very same shift. I’ve never questioned that he can skate and shoot a puck. Those two skills alone should have guaranteed him a career as a top 6 NHL forward with his size. But he just seems to fall apart on the small stuff. He can’t connect with the puck on chippy plays, he can’t handle the puck in tight, and can’t pass or take a pass to save his life. The MSM will call this game proof positive of his importance on this team — I just think it’s confirmation bias and some opportune timing. Hey, maybe he’ll get a shot at the 2nd line while Paajarvi needs to ‘work on some things’. Gah.